Eric Holder and "A Nation of Cowards"

So as race has become front and center during the past week, Attorney General Eric Holder has entered the fray. In a speech given to commemorate Black History Month last week Attorney General Holder made some very interesting commentary regarding race matters in the United States.
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards...On Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago. This is truly sad."
Eric Holder showed a huge level of courage to make this comment. Now many people may take exception to the use of the word "coward." I can understand most people's apprehension to the word. Having looked at the comment in its entirety, it can not be denied that there is some merit to the term.

During the course of this country's history there is a clear case of cowardice with how this country has viewed racial situations. The inception of the institution of slavery, to its subsequent Jim Crow and segregation laws could be viewed as cowardice. The internment of the Japanese could be viewed clearly as cowardice by larger segments of the society. The United States not allowing Jewish people into the country after World War II also could be viewed in the same way. In more modern times the way that Muslims and people who could be confused as Muslim is a direct result of our fear of them. Overall fear has been a huge barrier in terms of race relations in this country. It is very hard to not agree with that sentiment.

The issue is deep and affects people of color showing cowardice as well. I know many people of color who hold very disparaging views of whites. These assumptions have been purely based on them having rare genuine interactions with whites. And many times the reason that they don't interact is because of the fear of the unknown. So I can see where everyone has a level of cowardice toward issues of race.

I urge everyone to look at Holder's comments as offensive or unpatriotic. Look at it as a moment for clear consideration of the way this country historically and continues to look at race. And if you feel uncomfortable, maybe its not a bad thing. I would rather people be uncomfortable and offended than indifferent. Because its those that do not care that end up doing nothing to address the issues. And that is truly cowardice in my book.


Kevin L said…
I'm so glad that I'm not the only one out there that agrees with Holder. We have to be able to talk about race more openly, and not just on the cosmetic level.

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